Monthly Archives: February 2013

#ifIhadglass And Emotional Memory

#ifIhadglass And Emotional Memory

Over on Open the Future, Jamais Cascio is thinking about Google Glass as a technology heading toward near-constant recording of our lives. Cascio began predicting this in 2005, and saw the obvious move toward honesty and trust this would presage:

It’s a world where we can all be witnesses with perfect recall. Ironically, it’s a world where trust is easy, because lying is hard.

He goes on, though, to worry about what this perfect memory will do, not to the relationship between cops and protesters or CEOs and stakeholders, but between everyday people, lovers and friends:

But ask yourself: what would it really be like to have perfect memory? Relationships — business, casual or personal — are very often built on the consensual misrememberings of slights. Memories fade. Emotional wounds heal. The insult that seemed so important one day is soon gone. But personal memory assistants will allow people to play back what you really said, time and again, allow people to obsess over a momentary sneer or distracted gaze. Reputation networks will allow people to share those recordings, showing their friends (and their friends’ friends, and so on) just how much of a cad you really are.

Is it really misremembering faults that makes us able to move forward? Is pretending that things weren’t really that bad what we want to build our relationships on?

For some time now, I’ve been having almost all serious conversations via either instant message or email. It’s actually easier for me to argue with someone or hash out difficult things when we’re not in the same room; I’m highly empathetic and conflict-averse and it’s hard for me to remember my own thoughts and feelings when someone else’s are physically bearing down on me. The side effect of this is that I have years of transcripts of Big Talks.

And you know what? I almost never pull that stuff up and look at it. I could, certainly, dredge    up old conversations to prove who is or isn’t right in a given situation, but that doesn’t help anyone move forward. When I’ve been the one making mistakes, I’m glad that I have record of my failings- a reminder of the ways I misjudge and get selfish and stab people I love in the back. When it’s me getting hurt, having a record doesn’t make it any harder to forgive. If anything, I suppose I could go back, when the emotions have faded, and try to see the other person’s side a bit better.

If we all had such perfect records of our emotionally charged interactions, why wouldn’t it make us better at forgiveness and trusting each other? Perfect records will make it impossible for us to lie about how often we watch shitty reality shows or eat junk food or leave a bad tip, and thus inspire us to either own our flaws or stop doing the thing we’re ashamed of. Perfect records make us admit that it’s a normal human thing to masturbate or have a miscarriage or want to have sex with more than one person. Why shouldn’t they also show us that we are all selfish and shallow and mean sometimes? All of us lash out at people we love, or fail to do something that was vitally important, or put our own needs ahead of someone else’s. 

If we’re tracking our every move, we have two choices: a constant war, throwing reminders of past failings at each other every time there’s some new hurt. Or to admit human brokenness, accept a desire to grow and do better, and leave our records safely stowed in an archive so we can build a better future together.


Songs of the Historical Jesus

My dear friend Johnny Gall also goes to seminary, and is brilliant. He did this on Facebook today, and generously let me publish it here.

Fun new activity: While I’m writing this New Testament paper about the historical Jesus, I’ve been listening to every secular song written about Jesus that is in my collection.

Throughout the day, I will be sharing these, and interpreting them as if I were N.T. Wright (i.e. as if I had no regard for scholarship on historical sources, and regarded all writings that mention Jesus in any capacity to be equally valid).

To begin:
The Hollies “Jesus Was a Crossmaker”

This historical document from The Hollies proves undoubtedly that Jesus was indeed a carpenter, and that he occasionally worked to build the very same Roman crosses which would eventually bring about his own death.

He was also, according to this source, and to historical context, a bandit and a heart-breaker.
though what he stole and whose hearts he broke are unknown.

Carrie Underwood “Jesus Take the Wheel”
Despite the lack of automobiles in first century Judea, the historical Jesus does appear to have been quite a proficient driver, even demonstrating an ability to maintain traction when driving on icy roads.

Wilco, “Jesus, Etc”
In writing, “Jesus, don’t cry”, Wilco confirms for us that the historical Jesus was indeed an emotional and sympathetic person. Wilco also confirms that Jesus was one of the first to theorize the idea of a heliocentric universe, centuries before Gelileo, through his teachings that, “each star…is a setting sun.”

Tom Waits, “Chocolate Jesus”
In a landmark discovery on transubstantiation, Tom Waits proves to us that not only is Jesus present in the Eucharist, but that he is able to take corporeal form even outside of the traditional offerings of bread and wine, and that even in this unusual form, he is nonetheless able to satisfy our souls.
Some scholars have claimed that chocolate was not even historically available in first century Judea, and did not come to the Eastern hemisphere until the 16th century, but there is not a complete historical consensus on this, and therefore I will dismiss these ideas altogether, as this text clearly proves that Jesus was indeed made of chocolate.

The Middle East, “Jesus Came to My Birthday Party”
Jesus being divine and omnipresent, he arguably came to everyone’s birthday party every year. Still, The Middle East is helpful in showing that he is indeed able to manifest in corporeal form, and that he did indeed have long hair, which is consistent with the Jewish context in which he appears.

The Fratellis, “Jesus Stole My Baby”
Though the practice of infant baptism is controversial among some denominations, The Fratellis show us that, in fact, the historical Jesus has, on occasion, forcefully taken infants for the purpose of instructing them in the faith, much to the chagrin of certain fathers.

Guster, “Jesus On the Radio”
Not much has been written on the recording career of the historical Jesus, but we can see from Guster that at least some radio play was devoted to the Messiah. Being played at 5 am, however, he appears not to have been widely successful as a musician.

Iron and Wine, “Jesus the Mexican Boy”
Frightened Rabbit, “Head Rolls Off”
There has been some heated discussion as to the birth of the historical Jesus. Some, citing Iron & Wine have claimed that Jesus is obviously a Mexican boy, while others have commented that Frightened Rabbit makes clear that Jesus is a SPANISH boy.
I absolutely refuse to forsake one argument for another; clearly this is a both-and situation, taking into account the Spanish conquest of the indigenous people of Mexico, it is entirely possible that Jesus’s descent included both Mexican and Spanish ancestors.